The Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003 (the TCPA) governs Victoria Police’s counter-terrorism powers.
The TCPA permits:
- searches to be conducted covertly pursuant to a covert search warrant issued by the Supreme Court under Part 2. Covert search warrants can also permit the seizure and substitution of things, the copying or recording of things, the operation of electronic equipment either on the premises or remotely to copy, print or otherwise record information, and the testing or taking of samples.
- the making of preventative police detention decisions under Part 2AA in order to prevent or preserve evidence of a terrorist act. Adults can be detained for up to four days, and children aged 14 years or older can be detained for up to 36 hours.
- the use of special police powers under Part 3A pursuant to a Supreme Court Order, to protect people from a terrorist act. An application for an Order must be approved in writing by the Premier of Victoria.
The Act imposes strict requirements on Victoria Police in their exercise of powers under these Parts of the TCPA.
The VI performs an independent oversight function with respect to Parts 2, 2AA and 3A of the TCPA.
The VI is required to inspect the records of Victoria Police at least every six months to determine the extent of its compliance with those Parts and deliver reports on the results of its inspections to Parliament and the Attorney-General as soon as practicable after 1 January and 1 July each year.
The powers given to the Victoria Police under the TCPA are amongst the most intrusive and coercive afforded to Victorian law enforcement agencies. The VI’s oversight role is an important integrity response to ensure Victoria Police complies with requirements of the TCPA and to assure the public that police powers are used lawfully.
How we assess compliance
The objective of our inspection was to determine the extent of compliance with the relevant Parts of the TCPA by the Victoria Police and its law enforcement officers.
We used the following criteria to develop and apply the inspection methodology detailed in Appendix A:
- What activities have Victoria Police undertaken to ensure it is prepared to use its powers under the TCPA?
- Were covert search warrants obtained and executed in accordance with Part 2 of the TCPA?
- Were relevant record-keeping and reporting requirements complied with?
- Was the agency transparent and cooperative with the VI?
These criteria do not address the requirements of Parts 2AA and 3A because Victoria Police did not exercise those powers during the period covered by the inspection.
How we report on compliance
To ensure procedural fairness, Victoria Police was given an opportunity to comment on the preliminary findings from our inspection and to furnish additional records that might assist our assessment.
Included in this report are findings resulting from the VI’s inspection and assessment of records and documents relating to Victoria Police’s obligations under the TCPA. The report provides more detail where there is a finding of non-compliance. The VI may, in its discretion, not report on administrative issues (such as typographical or transposition errors) or instances of non-compliance with negligible consequences.